2018 CIV Invitational a rousing success!

2018 CIV Invitational (Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire)
Cote d'Ivoire Cote d'Ivoire Cote d'Ivoire

While Ivory Coast is known more for draughts, chess is beginning to make a bold presence. Under the leadership of Dr. Essoh J.M.C. Essis, the Fédération Ivoirienne des Echecs (FIDEC) and the Kasparov Chess Foundation (KCF) hosted the strongest closed tournament of its kind in Africa. There have been stronger African Championships with more GMs, but the historic value of the tournament cannot be put into words. It goes without saying that this is a very important moment to showcase some of Africa’s finest talent from every region.

Players of CIV Invitational

L-R: (top row) GM Bassem Amin (Egypt), GM Kenny Solomon (S. Africa), IM Mokliss El Adnani (Morocco), IM Andrew Kayonde (Zambia), IM Fy Rakotomaharo (Madagascar), (bottom row) IM Arthur Ssegwanyi (Uganda), GM Slim Belkhodja (Tunisia), IM David Silva (Angola), GM Mohamed Haddouche (Algeria), IM Oladapo Adu (Nigeria) | Photos by Alina l’Ami

For many years, there has been discussion on how best to foster chess development on the vast continent. One of the suggestions had been to attract Grandmasters to play in African tournaments to provide highest level of competition. Of course, there needs to be sponsorship for that.

The other option is developing internally. Of course, Africa is an expansive continent and very difficult to navigate in terms of air travel. In the past there has been difficulty in holding major events, but currently there is a push to hold first-rate events and FIDEC succeeded with the help of KCF.

All politics aside, Garry Kasparov has led the charge to help in this initiative. Graham Jurgensen, director of the Kasparov Chess Foundation Africa and co-organizer of the CIV Invitational has been very proactive in his pursuit of expanding chess throughout the 54 countries (47 African countries are members of FIDE).

The first CIV Invitational was held Wednesday 25th July 2018 until Sunday 29th July 2018 in stellar condition at the Hotel Tima in Abidjan. In addition to FIDEC and KCF, Vivendi also lent sponsorship. The tournament featured round robin formats: rapid play (25m + 10s) and double round-robin blitz (5m + 3s). The rapid games award twice as many points as the blitz games.

There was ample coverage of the event on Facebook and several reports were posted on ChessBase with outstanding photography by IM Alina L’Ami. There was daily coverage by Ben Simon and GM Robert Hungaski hosted by the St. Louis Club. All games were broadcast live on Chess24, Chess.com and the Follow Chess Mobile application. Ogunsiku Babatunde of African Chess Media would provide daily onsite reports.

There were some interesting interviews that took place prior to the tournament with Alina L’Ami conducting a set of scripted questions. A general observation was that many of the players started chess relatively late and were self-taught players with minimal support. Most did not believe that one could make a living solely playing chess in Africa, but that coaching and training would provide an opportunity to raise the next generation of players. When asked about the upcoming Carlsen-Caruana match all but one or two chose Carlsen. In terms of the candidacy for FIDE President, GM Nigel Short seemed to be the choice over Georgios Makropoulos and Arkady Dvorkovich.

Pre-Tournament Interviews

Videos by KCF/FIDEC and conducted by Alina L’Ami

This historic moment was about to begin and Dr. Essis could be seen beaming in photos. There were local children brought in to watch the opening. This should be a moment that all of Africa can celebrate with pride. The Ivory Coast, not known as a chess power in Africa, had put the continent in the spotlight. As fans watched the proceedings, the ten players listened politely to the opening ceremonies and then the action would start!

Rapid (45 PGN Games, standings)
Blitz (90 PGN Games, standings)

Players of CIV Invitational

Dr. Essoh Essis, President of the Ivorian Chess Federation makes the ceremonial first move. Grandmasters Bassem Amin of Egypt and Slim Belkhodja of Tunisia look on. Photo by Alina L’Ami

9 Comments

  1. Day 1 (Rapid)
    Wednesday, 25 July 2018

    CIV Invitational - Ivorian children enjoying the environment! :-)

    Ivorian children enjoying the environment! 🙂

    CIV Invitational - Round 1 - Bassem Amin (EGY) - Mohammed Haddouche (ALG)

    GM Bassem Amin (EGY) and GM Mohammed Haddouche (ALG)
    shake hands before battle!

    CIV Invitational - Round 1 - IM Andrew Kayonde (Zambia)

    IM Andrew Kayonde (Zambia)

    CIV Invitational - Good advice! :-)

    Good advice! 🙂

    CIV Invitational - International Arbiter Stephane Escafre intervenes in Rakotomaharo-Solomon. Tense moments.

    International Arbiter Stephane Escafre intervenes in Rakotomaharo-Solomon. Tense moments.
    Photos by Alina L’Ami

    CIV Invitational - Round 1 - Rapid

    CIV Invitational - Round 2 - Rapid

    CIV Invitational - Round 3 - Rapid

    Day 1 Report (Babtunde)
    https://africachessmedia.com/2018/07/26/the-civ-invitational-rapid-and-blitz-tournament-day-i/

    Video by St. Louis Chess Club

  2. Day 2 (Rapid)
    Thursday, 26 July 2018

    CIV Invitational - Opening Ceremony

    Opening Ceremony… (standing) Lekan Adeyemi, Ambassador Ibrahim Isah (Nigerian Ambassador to Cote D’Ivoire), Dr. Essoh Essis, Stephane Escafre (seated) Bassem Amin (Egypt) and Mokhills El Adnani (Morocco)

    GM Bassem Amin - IM Mohkliss El Adnani

    GM Bassem Amin – IM Mohkliss El Adnani

    CIV Invitational - Round 4 - Rapid

    IM Mohammed Haddouche (Algeria) vs. IM Andrew Kayonde (Zambia)

    GM Kenny Solomon

    GM Kenny Solomon of South Africa

    Arthur Ssegwanyi representing Kireka Chess Club

    Arthur Ssegwanyi representing Kireka Chess Club

    Ogunsiku Babatunde

    Ogunsiku Babatunde of Africa Chess Media taking in the action
    Photos by Alina L’Ami

    CIV Invitational - Round 4 - Rapid

    CIV Invitational - Round 5 - Rapid

    CIV Invitational - Round 6 - Rapid

    Day 2 Report (Babtunde)
    https://africachessmedia.com/2018/07/27/the-civ-invitational-rapid-day-ii/

    Video by St. Louis Chess Club

  3. Day 3 (Rapid)
    27 July 2018

    CIV Invitational - IM Oladapo Adu (Nigeria)

    IM Oladapo Adu (Nigeria)

    CIV Invitational - IM Mokliss El-Adnani (Morocco)

    IM Mokliss El-Adnani (Morocco)

    CIV Invitational - IM Fy Rakotomaharo (Madagascar)

    IM Fy Rakotomaharo of Madagascar uncorked a brilliant attack
    against IM Oladapo Adu.

    CIV Invitational - IM Fy Rakotomaharo (Madagascar)

    Analysis!

    CIV Invitational - GM Bassem Amin analyzing with IM Arthur Ssegwanyi

    GM Bassem Amin analyzing with IM Arthur Ssegwanyi. Always great to put minds together to find the truth in the position. IM Andrew Kayonde kibitzes. Photos by Alina L’Ami

    CIV Invitational - Round 7 - Rapid

    CIV Invitational - Round 8 - Rapid

    CIV Invitational - Round 9 - Rapid

    Day 3 Report (Babtunde)
    https://africachessmedia.com/2018/07/28/civ-invitational-rapid-and-blitz-rapid-day-iii/

    Video by St. Louis Chess Club

  4. Day 1 (Blitz)
    Saturday, 28 July 2018

    Blitz is something that catches the attention of most chess players and there has been intrigue of the popular format. There was a great video series done on best blitz openings by GM Maxim Dlugy and there is even a book titled, A Chess Opening Repertoire for Blitz & Rapid by GM Evgeny Sveshnikov.

    If one travels to Cairo, Lagos, Accra, Harare, Cape Town, Luanda, Lusaka, Gabarone and other African capitals and you find blitz battles and hear the staccato of chess clocks being hit in rapid fire. Who would be the king of African blitz? GM Ahmed Adly of Egypt was not present, but he has quite a reputation as a fine blitz player. Perhaps it would be his compatriot Amin who would reign supreme. Let’s see what happened.

    Round 1

    CIV Invitational - Round 1 - Rapid

    Round 2

    CIV Invitational - Round 2 - Rapid

    Round 3

    CIV Invitational - Round 3 - Rapid

    Round 4

    CIV Invitational - Round 4 - Rapid

    Round 5

    CIV Invitational - Round 5 - Rapid

    Leaders (after Round 5): Amin, Solomon, 5; Silva, 4

    CIV Invitational - IM David Silva (Angola)

    Angola’s David Silva trying to keep pace.
    Photo by Alina L’Ami

    Round 6

    CIV Invitational - Round 6 - Rapid

    Round 7

    CIV Invitational - Round 7 - Rapid

    Round 8

    CIV Invitational - Round 8 - Rapid

    Round 9

    CIV Invitational - Round 9 - Rapid

    Leaders (after Round 9): Amin, Solomon, 8; Silva, 6½

    CIV Invitational - GMs Bassem Amin and Kenny Solomon, old rivals, but old friends!

    GMs Bassem Amin and Kenny Solomon, old rivals, but old friends!

    Day 4 Report (Babtunde)
    https://africachessmedia.com/2018/07/29/2018-civ-rapid-and-blitz-invitational-blitz-day-i/

    Videos by St. Louis Chess Club

  5. Day 2 (Blitz)
    Sunday, 29 July 2018

    Going into the last day of the competition, Bassem Amin was holding the overall lead while trying to create separation from fellow-GM Kenny Solomon in the blitz portion. Unfortunately for the South African he had a rough start. According to reports, he even changed his shirt after a .5/3 start. It helped but it would not be enough to close the overall gap. Amin also took it on the chin with two losses, but clinched the victory by round 12.

    Going into the Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia, these players should been in good spirits for their teams. In addition, the rousing success of the tournament will prove that such high-level events can be held in Africa. The tournament was fantastic and ended on a very positive note. Africa should be celebrating!

    Round 10

    CIV Invitational - Round 10 - Rapid

    Round 11

    CIV Invitational - Round 11 - Rapid

    CIV Invitational - GM Kenny Solomon

    A beleaguered Kenny Solomon

    Round 12

    CIV Invitational - Round 12 - Rapid

    Round 13

    CIV Invitational - Round 13 - Rapid

    Round 14

    CIV Invitational - Round 14 - Rapid

    Leaders (after Round 14): Amin, 11½; Silva, 10½, Solomon, 10

    Round 15

    CIV Invitational - Round 15 - Rapid

    Round 16

    CIV Invitational - Round 16 - Rapid

    Round 17

    CIV Invitational - Round 17 - Rapid

    Round 18

    CIV Invitational - Round 18 - Rapid

    CIV Invitational - Standings (Rapid)

    Blitz (90 PGN Games, standings)

    CIV Invitational - GM Bassem Amin

    Day 5 Report (Babtunde)
    https://africachessmedia.com/2018/08/04/2018-civ-rapid-and-blitz-invitational-blitz-day-ii-final-day/

    Videos by St. Louis Chess Club

  6. Final Reflections

    CIV Invitational - IM Oladapo Adu with Andrew Kayonde

    IM Oladapo Adu with IM Andrew Kayonde

    Here was a picture featuring Alina L’Ami whose photos captured the essence of the event. GM Kenny Solomon took the photo! (front L-R) IM Arthur Ssegwanyi (Uganda), WGM Alina L’Ami (Romania), Ogunsiku Babatunde (Africa Chess Media), IM Andrew Kayonde (Zambia), International Arbiter Stephane Escafre (France). (back L-R) IM Adu Oladapo, (Nigeria) IM David Silva (Angola)

    CIV Invitational - Babatunde Ogunsiku

    Nigeria’s Babtunde Ogunsiku did an excellent job at reporting on the event!
    Photos by Alina L’Ami

    Final Report
    https://africachessmedia.com/2018/08/09/2018-civ-rapid-blitz-invitational-after-the-games/

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